Can the NYC Steakhouse Survive?
Neapolitan joint emphasizing local produce
Big River was born out of local farmers markets, so it’s no surprise they opened their shop across the street from one of the busiest in St. Paul. They call their pizza style “Minne-politan” -- a neapolitan thin crust combined with fresh, local produce, cheeses, and meats. During the warmer months, Big River also has an oven-on-wheels that they bring around to local festivals and events. Try the St. Paulie Girl with prosciutto, onion, and arugula, or the 10,000 Leeks with Gruyere, potato, leeks, and sour cream.
North Loop, Whittier, St. Paul
Smoky slices leading the local coal-fired pack
Black Sheep was the first coal-fired restaurant in the Cities, and firing pies using that method has two benefits. One, it’s good for the environment thanks to its comparatively low emissions, and two, the crust gets a charred, slightly smoky flavor. Black Sheep numbers its pizzas 1-12, and its the approach is more minimalist than many other places, but Black Sheep favors quality over quantity. Be sure to try the hot salami and dried chili pepper (No. 3), the oyster mushroom and rosemary (No. 7), or the Persian beef, feta, and harissa (No. 11) pies.
An underground cavern hiding an upscale pizza bar
Located directly underneath Burch Steakhouse (you may not even notice the downstairs entrance,) Burch Pizza is already on a whole other level. In what looks like a cave, Chef Isaac Becker’s bar serves up carefully chosen wines while the pizza menu pulls off some unusual combinations. The Gorgonzola e Mela, with creme fraiche, gorgonzola, bacon, and apple, is a hit as is the Tonno Diavolo with tomato, tuna, endive, and lime.
North Minneapolis (& Greater Twin Cities)
A faithful standby that will never empty your wallet
With 16 locations across the state (almost all in the metro), Broadway Pizza has been serving up fairly priced, classic thin-crust pies for more than 60 years. The Broadway in North Minneapolis is considered the “landmark” location, nestled right along the railroad tracks near the Mississippi. Standout pies include the Classic Deluxe, Pork n’ Kraut, and Meat at Broadway.
Downtown St. Paul
Old-school pizza with a legacy more than 100 years old
Cossetta has been serving award-winning, authentic pizzas since 1911 -- a really long time to perfect a pie. Its dough is always made from scratch and kneaded by hand into a thin, crispy crust, and topping your order with the restaurant’s house-made Italian sausage is a no-brainer. Pies here are simple: Order by the number of toppings you want, and choose from a lengthy ingredient list. While you won’t find Cossetta on the list of latest hotspots, knowing you can eat the exact same pizza people ordered 100+ years ago is pretty cool.
Pies delivered by superheroes (seriously) give back to the environment
Ever had your pizza delivered by a caped crusader? Well, Galactic Pizza isn’t your average pie place. Its pizzas are brought to your door on bike, foot, or electric vehicle by someone dressed in a superhero costume. It’s all part of the restaurant’s philosophy to deliver “planet-saving pizza” with the power of renewable wind energy, recycled packaging, and menus printed on hemp paper. Galactic also offers a variety of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. Try the current CSA (community-supported agriculture) pizza, The Organic Veggie, or The Second Harvest Heartland, from which partial proceeds go to Minnesota’s largest hunger relief organization. All this makes you feel a little less guilty about eating the whole pizza, right?
Uptown (& Greater Twin Cities)
Chicago-style slices finally imported to the Cities
Although Giordano’s is a Chicago institution, since its auspicious arrival, loyal fans haven't had to travel far to satisfy a craving. The chain popularized the deep-dish stuffed pizza in the '70s, and no one else does it quite the same. In Uptown, hungry post-happy hour 20-somethings pack the place, with stands of doughy goodness topping the tables. Obviously, order the Chicago Classic -- pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers, and onions -- on a stuffed deep-dish crust.
Homey, deep-fried crust with lots of combos
This nondescript building may not look like much from the outside, but inside Tim Niver’s old-school Italian eatery has been serving up serious pies for the past year. With a strong menu, it’s hard to choose, but the Camilla (topped with garlic butter and fried chicken) or the Beazy (with special sauce, meatballs, and fresh ricotta) come highly recommended. Mucci’s makes its pizzas with thick crusts, frying the pizza dough before it’s baked for prime fluffiness. Wash your slice down with the “house special,” Mucci’s Juice -- a mix of red wine and Orange Fanta.
Dinkytown, Uptown, Stadium Village
The best bet after hitting the bars on a late night
With two locations in close proximity to college kids and recent grads, Mesa is the go-to spot for a 2am slice. Even better, there are more than 40 funky pies on the menu so even if you go often, you won’t run out of options. Popular after-bar foods (think gyros, French fries, and mac & cheese) have been transformed into pizza toppings. The results are weird, but they work. The tortellini pesto, Philly cheesesteak, and chicken quesadilla pizzas will have you wondering why you haven’t tried to drunkenly create these combos at home.
Northeast, Longfellow, St. Louis Park
Neighborhood joint with kid-friendly games and nosh
Parkway is the epitome of a neighborhood pizza place -- families pack in after soccer practice, couples pick up for Friday date nights, and birthday parties bring boisterous gaggles of kids. The pizza is square-cut, thin crust, and generously topped. Try the Minnehaha Greek, the spicy garlic chicken, or pico de gallo pies. Vegan and gluten-free diners can be accommodated.
Suburban spot that prides itself on pork toppings
The former Travail Kitchen & Amusements site was revamped into a more family-friendly pizza pub when that gourmet restaurant moved down the street. However, Pig Ate My Pizza is owned by the same smart Travail team and delivers an equally squeal-worthy dining experience. The suburban shop serves its pies on thick, buttery crusts with loads of cheese and of course, meat. Try the Bay o’ Pigs with Gruyere, ham, and pastrami, or the Piggy Pie with bacon emulsion, black pepper fennel, and pork lovers’ sausage. (These pies can be made gluten-friendly.)
Downtown Minneapolis (& Greater Twin Cities)
Local chain with creative pies you can order from anywhere
Luce lovers agree -- this pizza purveyor has creative flavor combinations and great beer pairings. And, with seven local shops, it’s almost guaranteed one will deliver (in a box adorned with a heart) if you live in the Cities or surrounding suburbs. With pies like the baked potato pizza and the Fire Breathing Dragon (sweet chili sauce and spicy Jerk chicken), you’re bound to get something other than a standard one-topping. Luce also offers vegan and gluten-free options for nearly everything on the menu.
Korean BBQ pies served in a welcoming, wood-paneled space
Six years ago, entrepreneur Ann Kim quit her day job to open an artisanal pizza place, and ever since, it’s been standing-room-only most nights. A trained pizza-maker, Kim brings her Korean heritage to many pies on the menu, such as The Lady ZaZa (house-made kimchi, Korean sausage, and sesame soy-chili glaze) and Korean BBQ (beef short ribs, scallions, and arugula). Lola's wood-paneled dining room -- which is arranged around its oven -- also features a photo booth, solid wine and beer list, and special soft-serve ice cream with olive oil and sea salt.
Craft burger maestro brings his expertise to pizza
Restaurateur Luke Shimp has given his wildly successful Red Cow burger enterprise an Italian sibling -- Red Rabbit. A relative newcomer to the North Loop dining scene, Rabbit does great things with the pizza portion of the menu. The spicy salami pizza is probably the most-ordered pie, with chilis, ricotta, and honey, and the Yukon Gold is equally epicurious with rosemary, pancetta, and runny egg. It’s probably only a matter of time before Rabbit opens more locations like its older brother.
Pizza fit for fine dining, with a European flourish
Ann Kim’s third restaurant in town has been open for less than a year and is still a difficult spot to score on OpenTable. Sister to Pizzeria Lola in South Minneapolis, Young Joni is more upscale, offering fine-dining touches and an impressive back bar. The pizzas are globally influenced and adorned with names like La Parisienne (prosciutto, gruyere, and brown butter) and The Basque (Spanish chorizo, piquillo pepper, and Castelvetrano olives). They’re so good, it often requires weeks if not months to get in, so plan accordingly.